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Pinterest: The Most Underrated Retention Tool

Pinterest isn’t just a catalog of eye-catching photos. It’s where your customers go to interact and purchase. Are you making the most of it? Not sure how? Luckily, we've got the answers

Lauren Dowdle
04 August 2017

Who doesn’t love Pinterest’s photos of mouth-watering recipes, trendsetting hairstyles or crafty ideas? Sure, your attempt at the pinned Cookie Monster cupcakes might turn out more like blobfish, but they still taste the same, right?

While Pinterest is known for its DIY visual elements, don’t let those fool you. This site has all of the ingredients businesses need to cook up the perfect retention marketing strategy.

Pinterest now ranks as the No. 7 used social media site and holds the title as the fastest standalone site ever to reach 10 million monthly unique visits. So, if you’ve ever visited the site for visual inspiration, you’re definitely not alone.

Here’s a breakdown of Pinterest by the numbers:

  • 50 billion (and counting) pins
  • 175 million active users
  • $11 billion market value
  • 81 percent of users are female
  • 67 percent of users are younger than 40 years old

While Pinterest has fewer users overall than Instagram, millennials uses Pinterest just as much as its fellow photo-sharing site.

But even more important than who is on Pinterest is how the vast majority is using this social media channel — and they aren’t just there to see cute animal pics or feel envious of a perfect meal presentation.

Pinterest proves it has the power to turn interested shoppers into customers:

  • 93 of active pinners use Pinterest to plan for a purchase
  • 87 percent of pinners have purchased a product because of Pinterest
  • 72 pinners use Pinterest to decide to what to buy offline

To give you a better idea of how those numbers stack up to other social sites, consider these stats: 55 percent of shoppers say Pinterest is their social media platform of choice. Facebook and Instagram each have only 12 percent of shoppers who prefer their platforms, whereas Twitter, LinkedIn and Snapchat have a combined 17 percent.

Pinterest is one of the few social sites that has truly made the jump from engaging customers and prompting purchases on a regular basis. Your challenge is learning how to capitalize on the site’s capabilities and make the most of your retention marketing efforts.

You can start maximizing Pinterest’s potential as a retention tool by focusing on these four components. (Plus, see some real examples from brands killing it on the social site!)

Show & Tell on Your Profile

Before you start bringing in dozens of click-throughs with eye-catching pins, you need to set up a solid profile that fits your brand style. This is where you want to give them the who, what and why of your business. Even if they’ve done business with you before, it helps keep your brand top of mind.

Every business profile should include three basic components:

  • Profile photo: Use your logo or other brand-identifying image
  • Website: Obviously, you want your customers to easily find your site
  • About section: This will be displayed below your website and should give a brief description about your business. Larger, well-known brands can also use this spot for their slogan. Treat this like you would a Twitter bio
  • Here’s a profile example from one of the big-box stores:

There’s not much to a Pinterest profile compared to some of the other social media sites, but you can mess it up if you forget the core elements.

Also, when setting up your page, be sure to “Join as a Business.” (If you already have a page, don’t worry — you can convert it to business.) That allows you to view analytics like pins/repins from your website, your reach, number of visitors to your site from Pinterest, top pinned content and your most clicked content. The more you know about your customer’s habits, the better you can reach them.

And don’t forget to connect your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and email accounts to Pinterest so you can share your pins on those channels.

Create Shareable Pins

Pins are the meat and potatoes of Pinterest: Your page isn’t complete unless you have some, and they’re essential for engaging and reaching customers. And don’t just pin a few times and stop. Posting on a regular basis is key.

Your pins need to include the key factors to be successful:

  • Interesting photo: The image shouldn’t look blurry, stretched or busy. You’ve got a limited amount of space to get your point across and draw people in, so be picky with the photos you use. Remember, you want people to share your photos.
  • Text overlays. While text overlays aren’t something you need for every photo, they are another way to add variety and share additional information. This option is especially ideal for how tos and lists.
  • Good information. Make sure you write a solid description of the photo you pinned, along with a clear CTA when applicable.

If you’re creating your own original content to pin on Pinterest, you can use sites like Canva to design a perfectly sized graphic (735 px by 1102 px). The site even offers free templates and images to help get you started — or you can pay $1 for their premium options.

If you’re sharing an app, article, product or recipe pin, you can include additional information with those using the Pinterest’s Rich Pin feature. You’ll have to add this feature to your account, but it’s free and shows more than your traditional pin.

Companies like Whole Foods Market have really taken advantage of this option.

With the product Rich Pin, you can include real-time pricing and share where pinners can purchase the product. That alleviates some of the work on the customer’s part and helps improve your level of customer service.

You can also make it easier for customers to make purchases by adding a “Buy It” button, allowing them to make purchases straight from their mobile device.

And just a note on using hashtags in your pins: They aren’t as effective on Pinterest as they are on other sites like Twitter, and they can actually negatively affect your ranking if you use too many. So, use them sparingly.

Use Boards as a Marketing Tool

Your Pinterest boards aren’t the place to get lazy. They may only consist of a few words, but that doesn’t make board names any less important.

Not only are boards how you group your pins, but they are also another way for you to showcase what you offer and that you know your audience, which is especially pivotal with retention.

Take L.L.Bean for example. They created a mixture of fun and brand-themed boards, even including ones for L.L.Bean cat lovers and weddings. All of the boards stick to their brand style, without coming across as too sales-heavy.

Constant Contact is another one that does a good job of strategically creating boards that highlight their platform’s features. They target their audience with boards like Marketing Humor, Small Biz Stories and Copywriting Tips.

All of those boards give their audience what they want, while showing the benefits of Constant Contact.

You can (and should) also write a description for each board to give users a better idea of what to expect from the pins. This is your chance to share more information and further engage users.

Target Your Audience

“Go where your customers are.” Or better yet, be where your customers are. Pinterest gives you the tools to target different audiences, including customers and engaged users. That allows you to create pins that will show up on your customers’ feeds when they visit the site.

After setting up your Pinterest ads account, you can upload your customer list and save it with a name and description. Just remember: It takes 24 hours to process, and you’ll need at least 100 people in the group to target them.

When you’re ready to create a targeted campaign for those customers, choose a pin you want to promote with them. That pin will then show up in their home feed, “popular” section and “everything” feed.

To target a more niche customer group, you can include additional keywords, interests and categories in your promoted pin. You’re also able to exclude customers from promoted pins if they aren’t the intended audience.

Another option Pinterest offers is to create an engagement audience that will help you reach people who have interacted with your pins. You can choose from actions like saves, clicks, closeups, likes and comments to narrow down who you want to reach with your promotion. Again, it takes about 24 hours to save your audience settings.

Start Pinning!

Pinterest is a proven social media tool that drives business and retention. You just have to create engaging pins that your clients will want to view and share, and we’ve given you the foundation on how to make that a reality.

Your customers are turning to Pinterest for their shopping and idea needs: Make sure you’re there waiting for them.

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Lauren Dowdle

Lauren Dowdle is an award-winning writer and magazine editor based in Nashville, Tenn. Her nearly decade-long writing career has covered everything from landscaping to marketing — plus being interviewed by Jay Leno and winning a backhoe-operating contest. When she’s not behind the keyboard, you’ll find her spoiling her four furry babies and exploring the city with her husband.

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